KYRAN Lofthouse has become the latest young talent to be handed a first professional contract by Oxford United.

The 18-year-old winger has agreed to sign a deal which starts on January 1 and lasts until the end of the 2019/20 season.

He follows in the footsteps of under 18s teammate Slavi Spasov, who committed his future to United in October, hot on the heels of Shandon Baptiste's deal.

Lofthouse grew up a short walk from the Kassam Stadium and wrote to the club for a trial, which eventually led to earning a scholarship.

He said: “It’s a dream come true, a proud moment for me and my family.

“I’m really happy with the support and belief I’ve had from the club. I’m looking forward to kicking on now and hopefully getting into the first team.

“I got in contact with the club because I wanted to get back into playing at a higher level.

“I wrote a few emails and thankfully I got a two-week trial here and got in from there.

“I was offered a scholarship a few months later. I was quite late as an under 16, so I did have to push myself hard to get to this point.

“The club’s doing well to bring through young players and I think it shows the belief the coaching staff have in the young players.

“The next goal is to push on into the first team. Hopefully I’ll get my opportunity soon.”

Lofthouse has been one of the players to benefit from United’s launch of an under 23s team this season and is expected to be involved in their Premier League Cup tie with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Thame United tonight (7pm).

He has also helped the under 18s into an FA Youth Cup third round trip to Burnley next week.

Youth team coach Leon Blackmore-Such has been delighted with the teenager’s development in the last few months.

He said: “What he has done between his first and second year is really matured as a young man.

“He would probably be the first to admit that last year he was up and down.

“That’s what the process is about in us trying to turn them into footballers, but also young men.

“With the way he’s approached the second year he’s got his reward early for his performances.”